The Red opened the game in a defensive 4-5-1 formation designed to counter the high-octane offense of Penn State. The Nittany Lions lived up to their scouting reports, forcing the play into Cornell’s defensive third for much of opening minutes of the first half. However, senior goalkeeper David Mahoney was up to the task, turning away a flurry of Penn State shots to keep the Red in the game.
“Mahoney’s performance in goal was a bright spot,” Fuller said. “They had a couple of good chances early that he made some good saves on.”
Penn State’s relentless pressure paid off in the 18th minute when a quick one-two combination allowed the Nittany Lions to fire off a cross to Anthony Calvano who finished a header into the back of net. The goal was the first of senior Calvano’s career.
Cornell regrouped after the goal, holding Penn State scoreless for the rest of the half. For its own part the Red’s offenses was able to generate several opportunities to equalize off corner kicks in the closing portion of the first half.
“We felt we were in a good spot after the first half,” Fuller said. ‘We had our legs about us and we were creating some good chances, so we were going to give it a run and try and get back in the game [in the second half]”
Cornell did just that coming out in the second half, controlling play in the midfield and forcing Penn State on the defensive. However, the Red could not sustain its high level of play and things began to break down for it as the game entered its final 20 minutes.
Failing to clear a Penn State cross, Cornell’s defense left an easy ball for the Nittany Lion’s Richard Costanzo who capitalized on the opportunity to bury home his 4th goal of the season.
“It was a little bit of a mental, technical, and physical breakdown,” Fuller said. ‘We were fatigued, didn’t make the right decisions and couldn’t get a foot on it.”
Down 2-0 the Red’s frustrations began to show minutes later, as senior Sean Mendy found himself involved in an altercation with Penn State’s Calvano, resulting in yellow cards for both players.
“Mendy kind of tumbled over a guy and he tumbled over him. They got up and there was some shirt tugging,” Fuller said. ‘It was your classic soccer scuffle.”
Penn State responded almost immediately to the incident with its third goal of the game. Brazilian import Yan Carvalho struck home a lose ball four yards in front of Cornell’s net at 74:59.
“It wasn’t so much that they broke us down, but more or less we broke ourselves down sitting around ball-watching,” Fuller said. “In the end it’s just a matter of us connecting, finding the forwards’ feet and getting forward trying to get a goal early rather than always struggling to find one.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer